GOVERNMENT yesterday said it was going ahead with the reopening of the Beitbridge boarder post on December 1 as scheduled but with tight COVID-19 protocols in a bid to control the spread of the virus in the country.
BY REX MPHISA
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe met South Africa authorities at Musina Municipality Chambers yesterday and later disclosed the two countries agreed to open the border post and beef up health personnel in either side to deal with any possible cases.
The two countries are yet to reopen their borders to larger human traffic, although cargo transporters, essential service providers, diplomats, returning residents and permit holders can travel between the two traffic.
Both South Africa and Zimbabwe are experiencing a resurgence in new infections, with the former reporting 3 250 and 3 069 new cases on Wednesday and Thursday this week with the cumulative total closer to 776 000.
Zimbabwe reported 110 new infections on Thursday as the second wave takes root, with the total number of cases at 9 508.
Travellers will be required to produce COVID-19 free certificates prior to entry. Zimbabwe requires 48 hour-old certificates while SA wants certificates that are 72 hours old and less.
Addressing journalists after a meeting that lasted three hours at Musina Municipality Chambers, closed to journalists, Kazembe said their meeting was to discuss logistical arrangements to ensure the border opened smoothly.
“This border is critical not only to SA and Zimbabwe but to the region so it was important to meet and plan the way forward. We thank officials who were on the ground for managing the situation. It is important however to mention that the key factor now is health,” he said.
“Customs and Excise and Immigration have been here but the new normal demands health personnel to be in the full presence because of the disease COVID-19,” he said.
Kazembe said people planning to travel should have required requirements and that both governments were wary of fake documents.
Also addressing the Press after the meeting, SA Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the meeting had been called by Zimbabwe.
“This meeting was called for by Zimbabwe and we responded. We have the December holidays coming and we need to plan. We have regulations to be followed and these include COVID-19 certificates which are required now,” said Motsoaledi.
“We must have full compliments of workers to be able to cope with the December holidays when most people are travelling,” he said.
Motsoaledi said the recent congestion experienced at Beitbridge had been caused by truck operators not following directives that required trucks to stop in designated bays until they are cleared to cross the border. They abandoned the bays and blocked the highway.
He said the closure of the Botswana border with South Africa had also resulted in congestion seen on both sides of Beitbridge.
South Africa and Zimbabwe are moving towards a one-stop border post that would ease congestions.
On the opening of a new border, Motsoaledi said there were no such plans yet.
Kazembe was accompanied by Health deputy minister John Mangwiro and his counterpart in the Foreign Affairs ministry David Musabayana, Zimbabwe ambassador to SA David Hamadziripi, Zimbabwe consular-general to SA Melody Chaurura and several senior government officials from Immigration and other Departments.